Embodied Heart

When the Best Option Isn’t Good Enough

I’ve spent a good bit of time the last few months waging the battle we each face between seeking to change things in our lives that we don’t like or deciding to accept them for what they are, which I’ll be unpacking in today’s #EmbodiedHeart post. A flash of insight recently occurred that showed me some of the areas in my life that feel the most frustrating to me exist because there is a wide gap between what would be “good enough” for me as a person in terms of meeting my needs, and what the best option out of the choices I could make right now appears to be. In other words, the choice that outweighs the others is still below the threshold that would satisfy me. It may be possible that my personal growth as an individual can slightly alter what feels “good enough,” creating flexibility to allow a range of solutions to meet my needs instead of one or two outcomes. At the same time, I believe that a circumstance such as my housing that feels quite far away from good enough is not going to allow me to grow as quickly or effectively as I could in a place that more fully meets my needs and may actually add to my burden in life because of the triggers it contains.

A major hurdle that can trip people up prior to my current dilemma is feeling helpless, stuck, or trapped in unpleasant situations. By and large, once we are adults, we are very rarely genuinely trapped or helpless. To believe we are can flow naturally from an experience of childhood trauma in which we were stuck and unable to improve our lot in life. Once we’ve grown up, though, we almost always have other options to consider. The choices or changes we might acknowledge are there for us can be daunting in terms of the sacrifice and time required to realize them, and they may provoke quite a bit of anxiety because they require us to take risks. By and large, things we dislike do not need to stay the way they are. As someone with a rock-solid internal locus of control, I am challenged by my difficulty empathizing with people who readily share a litany of excuses as to why life sucks but can’t be made better. I embrace change as a necessary part of seeking satisfaction in life.

Despite my ability to see that change is possible and that I do not have to keep at things I dislike, I have been hitting against limits in certain areas of my life, mostly my living situation. In regards to my housing, the most reasonable and realistic decision is to “stay put” for a few years, even though I am on the verge of hating where I live. Guilt bubbles up as soon as I acknowledge how unhappy I am, because a good portion of people would find my situation more than satisfactory, and because there are plenty of things about my house that are perfectly fine. That’s the thing about “good enough” though—I perceive it as a right-brained, gut-level knowing deep within me that, although perhaps being slightly malleable, is relatively fixed once enough data have been collected to provide an assessment. Some part of me discerned very soon after moving into my house that it wasn’t going to be my “forever home,” but it took the rest of me quite a while to fully acknowledge this reality.

My primary solution to knowing that what I’m choosing to do (to stay put for a few years) is the best but also an unsatisfactory decision, is to accept my circumstances for what they are and to make effective use of my time. I want to become significantly more self-sufficient and to reduce my impact on the environment. There are so many tools I need to acquire and skills I need to learn. In that context, there is a tiny sparkle of gratitude in me that my goals of moving to a location that more fully meets my needs cannot yet be accomplished, because I have to prepare myself for the life I envision. I’m good at learning on the spot, but something tells me actions such as raising chickens or transforming an entire lawn into permaculture are probably much less overwhelming and susceptible to failure if a person has taken some time to become informed and to practice skills ahead of time. Maybe we can only see why our needs felt thwarted and our progress slowed once we have arrived at the milestones ahead. Maybe the path I’m on will head off in directions I cannot yet conceive. It could be that it’s only in a backwards glance that I will able to rejoice in by the drudgery of my present place.

How do you reconcile situations when all of the choices you can see are less than what you know you require to meet your needs? When life limits you, what do you do with the time before you can take the next step you are craving? How do you come to know what “good enough” means for you? Is your concept of “good enough” amenable to change, and, if so, how do you alter it?

Embodied Heart

Blogger Recognition Award

Thanks to Riya at High Noon Journal for nominating me for my first blogging award! I love the energy of her blog and the honesty she brings to her life experiences. Her writings include reflections on being in her 20’s, spirituality, travel, personal growth and lots more! She’s also quite active as a blogger which inspires me to write more often.

award

This award is the most widely used and very popular among bloggers, both new and old. This award is all about fostering growth and recognition, community feeling and prosperity. It encourages new bloggers to showcase their blogs and to support and share fellow bloggers’ creations as well, to get valuable advice from experienced bloggers and share their own experiences. Thus everyone nominated are encouraged to participate in it, though the choice to participate or not lies solely with individuals. This is a lovely initiative to foster community feeling among fellow bloggers.

The Purpose of My Blog

I’ve shared my blog’s purpose previously. I haven’t shared as much about why I chose to start it when I did. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I’ve spent a lot of my life staying quiet about what happened to me. In the last few years, I’ve grown in my spiritual practice and found my home within Goddess Spirituality. This development created a desire within me to connect with others who have had traumatic experiences and who are interested in spirituality, psychology, personal growth, creativity and nature. I’ve been blogging for about 5 months and have found it to be a rich and rewarding experience.

Reflections on Blogging and Blogging Advice

My Goddessing from the Heart and my Sagewoman blogs are the first blogs I’ve ever written. I never anticipated the positive, encouraging community that I would find on WordPress. It has definitely motivated me to continue to write. Contributing to my blog here has motivated me to make personal changes in other areas of my life; I’ve laid plans to decrease how much overtime I am working in order to achieve a healthier balance.

In terms of advice to bloggers who are starting out, I would definitely recommend pacing yourself. I had a stretch where I was writing each day and I knew I couldn’t produce quality work if I kept up at that intensity. I also think that taking time to read other blogs and write feedback to fellow writers is key; the more my work on my blog feels like a conversation, the more motivated I become. Lastly, something you may relate to if you’ve been blogging for a while is that I’ve found blogging to be a therapeutic experience when negative events happen to me. I think I’ve had some personal growth because the nature of my blog is personal but not particularly specific; I don’t share where I went today or the specific people with whom I interacted. When I have a stressor and blog about it, it pushes me to move beyond complaining about what happened to get to the root of what is driving my thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Real life holds a lot of inspiration!

My Award Nominees

1. Bird Flight: I’ve enjoyed reading about updownflight’s mental health recovery and viewing her nature photography.

2. Toni-Ann La-Crette: I’ve learned a lot from Toni-Ann; she’s an intuitive Tarot reader with a great sense of humor.

3. Inner Journey Events Blog: Della has been an inspirational source of witchy wisdom for me.

4. My Pretty Sydney: Maadz has an awesome lifestyle blog with beautiful nature photography.

5. Amanda’s Diary Pages: I take virtual tours of Northern England with Amanda’s travel writing.

6. Penny Heiple, Transformational Healing Facilitator: Penny does a fabulous job integrating science and bodywork.

7. Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver: She has become one of my go-to sources of guidance on pagan practices.

8. Surviving Childhood Trauma: I’ve been inspired as I read Shanon’s work journaling her recovery from CSA.

9. Where Spirit Stops: She writes about trauma recovery, pagan practice and has lots of cute Esty shop creations.

10. The Purple Hermit: Nikita shares great poetry and personal reflections on solitude.

To all who have been nominated, you may accept the award and write a post about it if you wish to do so. To all my readers, thanks for your readership and I hope you’ll take a moment to check out these blogs!

Award Rules

  1. Write a thank you section for the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Write briefly on what this award is all about.
  3. Give a brief description and your thoughts on how you started your blog and what’s it all about.
  4. Share your experiences in your blogging journey for fellow bloggers both new and experienced, to give valuable insights about your blogging efforts.
  5. And finally, nominate 10 of your favorite bloggers for the same and let them know by commenting in each of their blogs about their getting nominated by you.

 

 

 

Embodied Heart

To Name the Loneliness

I wrote the reflection below during a time of feeling particularly in touch with aspects of isolation. I do not always experience myself in this way, which complicates the presentation. At the same time, I think giving voice to this side of who I am is valuable during times when the themes of family and celebration are ever-present, and so I decided to share it as an #EmbodiedHeart post today.

There’s an ache in my bones when I’m lonely. The fibers of my being seem to be stretched thin and taunt, pulling me along without offering full support to my frame. It’s physically painful, mirroring the emotional pain I feel inside. And, always, the snide little voice in my head reminding me that I “chose” this path by separating myself from my abusive family of origin.

Chronic loneliness and social isolation affect many trauma survivors. For those of us who have experienced incest, feelings of isolation can come in waves. The estrangement from family members who refuse to acknowledge the truth. The holidays endured, rather than celebrated, without a place to truly call home. The pervasive sense of being “different.” The awkward social interactions, stumbling to learn the rules of human communication without a guide-map from childhood. Romantic relationships which crash and burn the moment any semblance of betrayal surfaces.

I marvel that those who are able to wade through the deep waters of dark family secrets and make it to shelter and communion. Their hearts and hands seem mended. Tender moments and genuine healing seem to be the foundation on which they rebuild their lives.

I have brief instances where I surface and see the shoreline, but each mad dash towards it only seems to pull me further from land; more isolated, more guarded, more convinced I’m incapable of loving others. I tug myself onto a patch of sand, surrounded by water, and build castles of schemes and projects. I’ve retreated from seeking sails of potential connection on the horizon.

It is not without irony that I consider my greatest fear for my future. It is not dying alone, that I think I can brave as I’ve braved birthdays and graduations and other major life events bereft of acknowledgement and company. Instead, it is losing my independence. I envision myself one of those crotchety old-timers beating off the nursing home attendants with a cane. As much as my isolation can harm and does harm me, I wouldn’t trade it for subservience, compliance or enmeshment for a moment. Some things taste bitterer than the salty tears I shed on the seashores of my isolation.

Sacred Spiritual Growth

To Do: Ask a Question Every Day

I recently listened to an interview on NPR with Walter Isaacson about a new book he’s published on Leonardo da Vinci. In the interview, he discussed da Vinci’s practice of recording fascinating to-do lists. He noted a favorite, buried within a list, of “describe the tongue of a woodpecker.” Da Vinci was no stranger to dissection and the examination of corpses, so one can only speculate the woodpecker would likely not have been alive if he attempted to study it.

I found inspiration in da Vinci’s practice, if not the particulars of his method. Poking around dead animals is not my forte. For several months, I’d written down a natural feature that I wanted to observe—such as trees—each morning during my morning ritual. The practice was becoming a bit stale, so I’ve decided to take it a step farther by delineating a specific question or curiosity, the analysis of which I wish to uncover during the course of the day.

Da Vinci placed an emphasis on consulting with experts, asking them in particular about the ways in which mechanical processes and structures worked. In today’s world, we don’t necessarily have a “Giannino the Bombardier” to whom we can turn, but we do have the Internet which is replete with information. Something in me balks though, at this process of “asking Google.” We can now install devices in our house to which we can literally ask any question, and they will provide an answer. The human, the physical, the effort is removed, replaced by an automated and unedited response. What would it look like to see the wisdom of our fellow humans and of our own skills of observation, to have to put energy and time into gaining knowledge? How much more fully are our minds shaped and expanded by this type of learning, versus a few second of a search through digital databases?

If we embark on the quest for a more intimate connection with the world in which we find ourselves, what or who should be our subjects? How do we record our findings? What do we do with the knowledge we gain? I’ve tried on the life of a scientist briefly, and the infighting, politics, scandals and backstabbing quickly showed me the extent to which human flaws pervade even the noblest of discoveries. It was not for me. But, my curiosity about the world beckons, and I desire to intertwine it with my spirituality. I wish to hone my powers of observation to more fully appreciate my place in the Cosmos and to better equip myself during my inner work to flow within the natural energies that surround us.

Where this has led me is to a deeper understanding of a possible use for a Book of Shadows. I do not practice magic with the belief that my thoughts can directly alter outcomes, nor do I believe I can summon forces to do my bidding. As I’ve noted many times, I see my spirituality primarily as a conduit for inner change, as well as a mechanism by which I can better experience the interconnectedness of all of life and existence. With this in mind, I see a Book of Shadows as a place to record those instances in which my observations have transformed my inner being, as well as the practices by which I achieved such outcomes.

The natural world is my primary sacred space, the place where I nearly instantly move on more than a physical plane, the place that causes me to leap for joy and which brings tears of appreciation for its beauty to my eyes. Therefore, detailed study of the plants and the animals and the sky and the moon and all of Goddess’ realm seems, for me, a natural companion to ripe spiritual musings.

Isaacson’s discussion of da Vinci made note of the many half-attempts and false starts contained within his writings and drawings. He demanded perfection of himself, reworking some of his famous paintings for years. Yet, the intricacies of what he didn’t complete are just as revealing as those he finalized. Most of our own observations will not lead to any great insights regarding the world, but I think the idea that, on this day, for this time, a particular person saw, felt, touched, heard, tasted or smelled something that no one else experienced in the same way is, absent of anything else transpiring, a beautiful and brilliant moment resplendent in the sacred.